Ever since I started writing, joining SFWA has been one of my personal professional goals. That hasn’t changed over the years. They advocate for their authors. They look out for each other. They protect both new and experienced writers from scams and bad deals.
But that doesn’t mean problematic things don’t happen, and this weekend was a huge reminder of that.
Radish Reviews recaps and posts screencaps here, so you can get an idea where to start and see for yourself. Mary Robinette Kowal has voiced her reaction to what went down regarding the most recent issue of the SFWA Bulletin over here. Please also see Jim Hines’ excellent collection of links. And current SFWA President John Scalzi’s statement.
And read Ann Aguirre’s brave post about sexism in SF, all the way through to her update about the hate mail she started getting an hour after she posted.
This shit still happens. Two thousand fucking thirteen, and women writers are still having to put up with this.
They’re having to put up with it in a community I have wanted to be a part of for years. It can make newbies feel quite unwelcome when you see that someone out there — someones who are big names! — think you’re not a writer but a lady writer, as though my gender puts an asterisk beside anything I do. Maybe it’s a small subset of the community who think I’m less-than for my ladyness, that my words and work aren’t important as a man’s, or that because I’m a woman, my actual body is fair game for discussion rather than my body of work.
But (and if you read this blog regularly, you might have seen this one coming) Melissa McEwan has a perfect reply to the whole “small but vocal group” thing at Shakesville. Go read that. It’s not reassuring to know that this small but vocal group gets air time and column inches (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they’re also paid column inches?) to spew their disdain for writers like me.
Doesn’t make me feel so welcome. Doesn’t make me feel so wanted. Doesn’t make me feel respected or valued.
But here’s the other side of that: in the past few days, I have seen an outporing of THIS IS NOT OKAY from writers all over SFWA, including its current and incoming executive board.
Cats ‘n’ kittens, Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal and Steven Gould and Rachel Swirsky are part of the very reasons I want so desperately to join this organization. Because they are agents of change. They are advocates for more diversity in SF/F, and they call bullshit when they see it. Their responses over the last few days have been professional. Their apologies have been sincere. When they say “We will do better,” I believe them.
Some members have, understandably, stated they’re resigning from SFWA or they won’t renew their memberships when they run out. That’s not something I’m going to argue with — it’s a personal decision, and not one I can imagine was arrived at lightly. Sometimes, when enough people say “We don’t want you here,” it doesn’t matter how many others are saying, “But we do, please stay.” So I respect anyone who’s taken a look at the last few months in the organization and said “fuck this, I’m out.”
This is the closest I’ll get to a public announcement here for at least a few more weeks, but I’m going to break radio silence just a teeny-tiny bit:
This year I will be eligible to join SFWA.
I’m one small, new voice, and lord knows I’m not terribly assertive — I have a hard time nudging my way onto a train out here in meatspace — but damn it, my voice is important. For me, saying “I’ll join when it gets better” might mean I’m waiting a long damned time.
Instead, I will join as soon as I have a contract I can wave around and say “Hey! Hey, let me in!” I don’t know yet how I can help, outside of making that small but vocal minority even smaller, but I’m in. I want to be part of the solution.